When a person intentionally enters into a marriage with another individual while he/she has a living spouse, they may be accused of committing bigamy. For example, if a marriage was on the cusp of divorce and one party left and remarried, this could be classified as bigamy. In Alabama, bigamy is considered a criminal offense and carries serious penalties. However, in order for the State to convict an individual of bigamy, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements:
- The individual contracted or attempted to contract a marriage with another person other than their spouse.
- The individual had a living spouse.
- The individual intentionally entered into another marriage aware he/she was still legally married to someone else.
When is a person not guilty of bigamy?
If an individual enters into a marriage or attempts to enter into a marriage with someone else while they still have a living spouse, they may not be guilty of bigamy if:
- He/she had reason to believe that his/her previous marriage was either void or dissolved by death, divorce, or an annulment. For example, if an individual was under the impression that their previous divorce had been dissolved by divorce yet the divorce was never finalized, he/she may then not be found guilty of bigamy if he/she remarried.
- He/she was “living apart from his/her spouse for five consecutive years prior to the subsequent marriage, during which time the prior spouse was not known by him/her to be alive.”
If an individual is legally married but has been living apart from his/her spouse and wishes to remarry, they can contact an Alabama divorce lawyer who can help file for divorce. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce, it can take a few months or several to get the divorce finalized. If a couple wishes to get their divorce finalized quicker, they can work out certain issues such as division of assets, alimony, child support, child custody, etc. to help speed the process up. A couple that is unable to work out these issues among themselves may find their divorce will take longer to get through.
Once a divorce is finalized, however, an individual who wants to remarry can do after 60 days has passed. The State of Alabama requires individuals who are permitted to remarry to wait 60 days after their divorce has been finalized to remarry [Source: Social Security Administration]. If someone were to marry someone else before the 60 days were up, the marriage would be considered void in the state. If a couple wishes to remarry before the 60-day waiting period, they can do so in another state so as long as they meet that state’s statutory requirements.
Anyone who has questions concerning remarriage or divorce can contact an Alabama divorce lawyer at Hill, Gossett, Kemp & Hufford, P.C. The attorneys at this law firm are qualified and skilled in all areas of family law, including divorce.
Disclaimer: No representation is made that quality of legal services provided is greater than the quality of legal services provided by other attorneys.
Hill, Gossett, Kemp & Hufford, P.C. can be reached at:
2603 Moody Parkway, Suite 200
Moody, Alabama 35004
Phone: (205) 640-2000
7900 Parkway Drive
Leeds, AL 35094
Phone: (205) 699-5500
6441 U.S. Highway 11
Springville, Alabama 35146
Phone: (205) 467-2225